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Asktheanimals' Art

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posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 03:22 PM
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At the request of several friends I've been encouraged to post some of my art here. So for my 10,000th post I figured why not? I've been fortunate to have worked as an artist for close to 30 years and staying self employed the majority of the time. While drawing was my first love I found it impossible to make a living with so I learned to engrave as an apprentice to a master engraver from the Colt custom gun shop. After guns I learned to engrave collectible knives and jewelry which I did up until I became disabled several years ago.

One of the things you will find out quickly should you become unable to work is you lose part of your identity. No longer can you answer the question "what do you do?". You can only answer as to what you used to do. I still do a portrait here and there for some extra money but that's the extent of my artistic output these days. Here then is what I used to do:

Engraved knives-
Engraving consists of creating images by cutting lines with steel chisels. Images were also cut using an Italian technique called Bulino, which uses tiny dots to create an image. Gold is inlaid by cutting a dove tail channel into the steel then hammering in the gold sheet or wire. The following are benchmade knives called gentlemen's folding knives which are rather small - 3" - 4" length closed.

By the way - you can check out more detail if you enlarge the images using cntrl +. I have the best possible resolution while staying within the limits.

Koi Knife (1990): A golden koi or Japanese carp breaches the surface of a pool while newly fallen Maple leaves float lazily on the surface. Inlays of black lip pearl. This was my first engraved knife.


Detail of Koi:


Katsura Imperial Villa (1990): The Japanese Emperor's summer cottage reflected in a pond with standing stones, foot bridge and lanterns. Detail of cottage -


Rainforest knife(1992): An anaconda rises from slumber while a chameleon catches a dragonfly with it's tongue and other insects hide among the foliage.


A large spider watches from it's dewy web above the river while bats fly in front of a rising full moon. On the opposite end army ant soldiers attack a wasp nest.


Japanese cranes(1990): Cranes alongside the ocean bow to each other after mating. On the reverse a green sea turtle dives while a curious octopus observes from the far end. A haiku poem by Basho is written in kanji characters above and below the tortoise shell inlays backed by gold foil.


Lion (1994): Portrait of an old male lion soon to be past his prime and eclipsed by a new male.


Tiger in Bamboo (1991): The 2 sides of a tiger show one on the prowl peering through thick bamboo shoots while on the reverse side it watches a butterfly flitting past in a quieter moment.


Detail of tiger (appears a little thick due to foreshortening of the camera angle)


Jewelry
Signet crest medallion (2008): A reverse carved signet with a full coat of arms deep engraved in a tiny block of 22kt gold 1/2" tall to be mounted in custom pendant.


The finished piece:


Portrait of 2 young boys done on 1" diameter 22kt medallion (2002):


Engraved guns-

California Henry Rifle (1996) featuring full coverage of American or Nimsche style scrollwork with the California state flag and outline of map inlaid in 22kt gold.


End Part I
Next: Drawings and Illustration

edit on 23-10-2013 by Asktheanimals because: added comment



+9 more 
posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 03:33 PM
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PART 2

Graphite Drawings: Drawing was my first love from an early age and I was fortunate enough to have an art teacher take me under his wing back in high school who remains my mentor and friend to this day 36 years later. He is also the person who later taught me animal and man tracking.

Industry 7"x10"(1979): Done in a photorealist style this was my tribute to the working man inspired by the work of photographers like Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams


Detail:


Fraz 4"x6" (1984): A portrait of my first cat using graphite on gesso panel.


Cowboy crucifixion 20"x20" (1988) Graphite on gesso panel:
This was a personal challenge to me as no erasers or straight edges were used. It is my commentary on American iconography showing the backside of one of the Marlboro men billboards which were once commonplace. The gesso panel has 10 coats, each coat hand sanded with 2 different grits of paper. This leaves a glassy surface with just enough tooth to catch the graphite from the tip of the pencil. I spent 40 hours just preparing the panel to draw on and it was a nightmare due to the fact that any drop of moisture or touch by a dirty finger would leave a permanent stain and ruin the pure white of the gesso. It represents over 100 hours of work not including the photo studies and sketches. The last element I would ask you to consider is the balance between positive and negative space - where the drawing "is" and where it "isn't" and the shapes formed by the negative space.

It's one of my favorite pieces yet I consider it a failure as good art shouldn't require any explanation from the artist. Since I failed to convey that meaning here is my explanation: The cowboy is the ultimate American icon - free, tough and individualistic yet here is that same icon not in color but black and white, held up by steel and wood, an industrial fabrication. His image is only an outline, suggesting the cowboy was more implied than real. Finally, it is an advertising tool, his image crucified on the phallic pole which also is shaped rather like a cigarette. The suggestion is that he was never real, just a myth propped up using machismo and myth to sell a product.


Painting:

Rattlesnake (1977) oil on canvas: Some of you might remember this as my old avatar. It was actually my senior year project in high school that was repainted 3 times after growing frustrated and throwing paint on it. I never did take well to painting and I leave the brushes to more capable hands like those of ATS moderator Masqua and ATS member Aliquandro both of whom I think are amazing painters.


Track drawings (pen and Ink):
Drawings of animal tracks. These are much more than footprints in the mud, tracks show the very dance of life written upon the matter we were all created from. They are statements of who, where, when and even why. They are things of beauty made by creatures of great beauty. Tracks are delicate and soon vanish only to be appear over again and again on tabula terra - the dividing line between earth and sky where the story of life is written anew each day.

Red Fox:


River Otter:


Dog:


Green Frog:


Sketches:
These were some pro bono work I did for the Maymont Nature Center in Richmond, Va.
River Otter


Screech Owl


Design work:
I would be remiss to not include at least one example of designs I've done for mass produced objects such as guns and Zippo lighters as it constitutes a fair portion of my working past.

Cherokee rifle- Designed for the Museum of the Cherokee Indian I included any number of mythological themes as well as items important to their clan system and everyday life. There are Eagle dancers, Kanati and Selu (first hunter and corn maiden), the giant horned serpent Uktena, the sky vault which once held all the animals, the 7 star cluster and a mask and leaf representing each of the clans. This was never produced which is why I feel no reservations for posting it here.




Sorry to be so picture-heavy but my work spans too many forms of media so I felt to fairly represent myself I needed at least a couple from each category. One of my greatest regrets is failing to get pictures of some my best work before sending it away. If you are an artist make sure to photograph everything that leaves your studio. It can only help you to make the best portfolio possible for yourself.

Thanks for looking and I hope you enjoyed something in there.
Cheers,
Asktheanimals

corrections
edit on 23-10-2013 by Asktheanimals because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 03:43 PM
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WOW!! Unbelievable talent! It's unusual to see that level of craftsmanship these days. Thank you for sharing. You have an awesome gift no doubt and I am glad that you use it.



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 03:51 PM
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Now that is a way to make a ten thousandth post!

Stunning. I never knew you had such talent!



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 03:52 PM
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Your talent took my breath away! I'm almost speechless here. Do you still sell these items? Just amazing!!!!!!


+1 more 
posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 04:03 PM
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Night Star
Do you still sell these items?


No, that's the only reason I felt I could share.
I wouldn't want to use ATS as a platform for self-promotion.
If I weren't disabled I would still be doing it.
I really do miss working.



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 04:11 PM
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reply to post by Asktheanimals
 


Have you ever heard of "Wendell August Forge"?

They are a very well known metal crafting company located in Grove City, PA and I believe Exton, PA.....

Not sure where you are from, but I have to be honest, after seeing your work, I have a feeling they would hire you in a freakin heartbeat!!!!

Here is their website.

Wendell August Forge

And if you do get a job with them in Grove City, private me, and drinks are on me!!!



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 04:15 PM
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Asktheanimals ------

I really appreciated the work you did to those knives! The gold was all really nicely used, and gives off a great "tiger's eye" effect. Really appropriate and spot on. I hope you're making some dough off of these because you deserve it, and it's evident you've been at this for a while just from the quality of craftsmanship.

Perhaps one day I'll have to send over an old knife for you to examine, I can't think of anyone else I'd rather have it messed with.
edit on 23-10-2013 by ThinkingCap because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 04:21 PM
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BREATHTAKING!!!!!!!

ABSOLUTELY BREATHTAKING

I just recently started expanding my knife collection to include hand carving and engraving..

It is a shame you do not do the work anymore..

LOVE YOUR TALENT!!!



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 04:24 PM
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reply to post by Asktheanimals
 


I don't S & F much and it seems a trivial thing to do for talent like yours.

To experience someone as talented as you are makes my day, art and a love for animals are all that's left of the human race that I can even think of admiring these days.

Thanks for sharing.



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 04:43 PM
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Professional artwork of the very highest calibre, ATA! What a treat this was, thank you. I could 'feel' your work.


I also totally understand about 'identity.' I'm a creative and have somehow managed to identify myself with that which I love to do. So, I moved home a few years ago to do caregiving for family and felt--for the longest--that I had lost myself somehow.

Ultimately, somehow, it seems to have been good for me and I'm now able to offer my skills--when I have a window of opportunity--to various community projects and arts in education ventures.

Hey, your depth and multi-faceted talents are showing!



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 05:01 PM
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Pointalist with a pencil? Impressive indeed. Beautiful work. How long does it take you to make one of your knives? They are extraordinary, and fine.



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 05:10 PM
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Thank you ATA,

I have found myself returning to your thread over and over to look at my favorites from everything that you've shared. You have such a gift for portraying eyes. I hope that you don't mind if I cropped this to post. He's my favorite and I really love his 'habitus'; the way you made his body gives him so much life.

Thanks again.



edit on 23-10-2013 by Bybyots because: . : .



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 05:14 PM
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reply to post by Asktheanimals
 


My, you have such a wonderful gift, thank you for sharing!
I always wondered about your snake avatar, hehe now we know.

Of course, I am partial to your graphite drawings, epecially your cat!



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 05:38 PM
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reply to post by Asktheanimals
 

I have always loved your contributions to ATS, but I now have a new-found respect for you.

Great work, very beautiful. I had no idea....



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 07:19 PM
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WOW! Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your self with us, ATA. Your paintings and sketches are excellent, and I truly believe I have never seen such amazing engraving in my life, ....... and I've seen quite a bit of it.

How long did the signet crest medallion take to do? I know nothing about it, but it seems like that kind of reverse carving would be intensive. Hell, it ALL looks intensive.

I really like the charcoal -- Industry. That really speaks.



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 07:19 PM
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reply to post by Asktheanimals
 


Congratulations for having worked your talent, you have my respect. to me, the beauty you display is mesmerizing. specially the engravings talk to me. and the contrast of such gentle pictures on weapons take my fascination. the
koi and the tiger are my favorites, but they are all touching.

I wish you all the best in your new situation. I'm sure you will find new answers soon. living is also an art!



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 08:42 PM
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Thank you all for your replies and comments. I am truly humbled by you. You each deserve a reply and as much as I would like to I think I should combine your questions in one post rather than end up spamming my own thread.

I waited 4 years to share my art because I didn't want to give people any preconceived notions of me. After seeing someone's art you might rightly claim to know something about them. Showing people your artwork is a bit like letting someone rummage through your dresser - it's kinda personal.

Q: How long did those knives take you?: Anywhere from 120 - 300 hours. It's a pretty crazy expenditure of time on such little canvasses but many of them have over a million cuts, each done 1 stroke at a time. Some work is done with hammer and chisels while finer work uses push tools held in a single hand. I make all my own tools as well.

Yes, my fondness for cats is obvious so, whatcha gonna meow about it?

Q: How long did the signet crest take?
It took about 12 hours working under 20x magnification ( I use a binocular microscope occasionally). By that point in my career I could engrave fairly fast, still it is only half a inch tall. At that speed I was cutting out about 12 micrograms per hour...


If I had one goal it would be to share through art a moment in nature that connects you to it somehow. Something you can identify with or hold in some special regard. You could call it barging in on nature's private moments -like when a young tiger sees a butterfly for the first time. Does the tiger feel wonder? I think so and that is what I try to evoke.

Track drawings may not be accessible to people because most have never bothered to really look at any tracks before. It's something foreign to them and sadly it's the most important skill to have if you want to understand and participate with nature. Humans are extremely visual animals and learning to track kept them alive by telling them what game was where as well as posting notice of predators to be avoided. What skill besides making fire even comes close in importance to that?
You can have a rocket launcher to hunt elephants but it won't help if you don't know where to find the elephants in the first place.

Tracking is the visual language of nature. You want to read the book? Learn the vocabulary then you can build phrases, sentences , even entire books.
edit on 23-10-2013 by Asktheanimals because: corrections



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 08:50 PM
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Thanks for sharing this work, as others have said it is truly amazing!



posted on Oct, 23 2013 @ 09:33 PM
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I just noticed the forum icon is a pink palette.
Dude, that is so ___.






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